We all know someone who is full of crap. I mean really full of it. They are the dudes that’ll show up to a party or even a funeral running their mouths about this thing and that and, no matter how much hard evidence someone has to the contrary, they are never, ever wrong. Other people’s sources just aren’t reliable enough to compete with their alternative facts. They are right, and everyone else is an idiot — end of story.
These know-it-alls are sometimes so committed to their pseudo-intellectual line of garbage that they never stop to consider the real possibility that they are the ones who have been deceived. Well, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo, you can rest easy knowing that these turd jugglers are going to their graves covered in their own BS. It turns out that you can actually bullcrap a bullcrapper, and it’s not that hard to do.
A study published in the British Journal of Social Psychology shows that people who are continually trying to flex their library of knowledge with misleading information are more likely to buy into fake news. Although these clowns often come off as impenetrable forces, they are the ones who get fooled time and again.
“It probably seems intuitive to believe that you can’t bullshit a bullshitter, but our research suggests that this isn’t actually the case,” said Shane Littrell, lead author of the paper and cognitive psychology Ph.D. candidate. “In fact, it appears that the biggest purveyors of persuasive crap are ironically some of the ones most likely to fall for it.”
For the sake of this study, researchers identified two types of bullshitters – persuasive and evasive. Persuasive bullshitters are the ones who try to impress with exaggerations and embellishments – think Donald Trump in the White House — while the evasive breed likes to spout off loads of irrelevance to hurt someone’s feelings or damage their reputation. Can you say cancel culture?
Researchers examined hundreds of people from across the United States and Canada to get to the bottom of how they process bullcrap based on false statements and fake news headlines. In the end, the persuasive BSers, the ones who try to make everyone think they are smarter than what they really are, were more likely to fall for fictionalized reports than their peers. If these people perceived what was said as profound, even if it was nothing but a heaping load of horse dung, they bought in. There’s no changing their mind about it either. It is gospel, and they’ll defend it to the bitter end. The evasive BSers, while also aggravating, were more capable of sniffing out the crud.
“We found that the more frequently someone engages in persuasive bullcrapping, the more likely they are to be duped by various types of misleading information regardless of their cognitive ability, engagement in reflective thinking, or metacognitive skills,” Littrell said. “Persuasive BSers seem to mistake superficial profoundness for actual profoundness. So, if something simply sounds profound, truthful, or accurate to them that means it really is. But evasive bullcrappers were much better at making this distinction.”
The hope is that this research and others of its kind will somehow manage to put the proverbial leash on the spread of bullshit in the future. But at its most basic level, that doesn’t seem possible. Because while it might sound fathomable to dissect the guts of misinformation and shift the presentation so that it no longer plagues society with mindless erp, we are still talking about human beings.
People who are designed by nature to digest and regurgitate bullcrap aren’t about to change teams. Perhaps these people weren’t loved enough when they were kids. Maybe they were just born assholes. But what remains true is there is no way to eliminate this DNA from our raucous planet. No, sir, bullshit and those who lap it up like wild dogs are here to stay.